For 40 years now, Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) has built its process automation business on the core value of "continuous evolution," the company's pledge to provide its users with a path forward to the latest technology while preserving past investments in intellectual property. But what happens when continuous evolution runs headlong into disruptive technology such as that represented by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?
HPS experts convened in San Antonio last week for the Honeywell Users Group Americas (HUG), and editors for Smart Industry’s sister publication Control were there to gather the breaking news and insights.
Discussion of IIoT included consideration of how these new technologies should be explored and integrated by process industries, and what should be the prime considerations to make that integration progress as beneficially as possible.
"The IIoT is evolving itself," said Bruce Calder, HPS chief technology officer, in one HUG panel discussion. "It's a matter of finding balance."
Indeed, the company's customers need time, and they need to find "the right way to deploy and prudent way to apply" these new technologies, added Paul McLaughlin, HPS chief development engineer. "Pipelines are different from refineries, which in turn are different from discrete factories. Users have to decide what is important and why they should consider sending data to the cloud. And those data flows can't perturb the core mission of the automation system."
In another session on "How Digital Transformation Enables Smart Operations and Enterprise Optimization," discussion focused on how information gained from IIoT innovations can best be put into action.
Spoiled by the ease of using their smart phones and apps, many might think the IIoT is simple: I am connected, therefore I can do amazing things. "Not so fast," said Darek Kominek, senior product marketing manager, Matrikon, to attendees of the session. "To make IIoT information useful, we must be able to put it and its context in a common language, analyze it and feed it to someone who can use it to do something."
To support the variety of applications necessary within a manufacturing facility, the information must be delivered with context so it can be understood and used in a variety of ways by a variety of people.
"And you don't want to send everything to everybody,” Kominek continued. “Along the way, you need firewalls and security."
For more on Bruce Calder and Paul McLaughlin’s panel, see “’Continuous evolution’ to the Industrial IoT” by Keith Larson.
And to learn more about Darek Kominek’s thoughts on the right technologies to put in place, see “This is the dawning of the ‘Age of IIoT’” by Paul Studebaker.